Rethinking The Role of Attorneys in Society

For centuries, the function of attorneys in American society has been primarily defined by an ethical obligation to zealously represent clients within proscribed evidentiary and procedural guidelines aimed at eliciting “truth” and, ultimately, some ephemeral notion of “justice.” The more broad notion that attorneys should work towards the overall betterment of society has been subordinated to the ethical obligation to advance the interests of individual clients.

The more broad role in moving society forward in more sustainable directions refers not simply to offering inexpensive legal services to the financially underprivileged, but rather to working to address fundamentally flawed orientations to life that contribute to an overwhelming percentage of legal conflicts and criminal behavior.

Most attorneys may read about serving the more holistic needs of clients and respond that such issues fall within the purview of psychologists, clergy, or spiritual counselors. A law practice that emphasizes mindful awareness of present-moment experience, however, is uniquely positioned to offer fundamental, lasting changes to clients in the context of resolving problematic real-life situations, whereas the work of psychologists and spiritual counselors is often conducted in a more abstract, experiential vacuum.

The historically fundamental failure of attorneys to help move society forward and truly help resolve problematic behavior has become patently obvious to society at large. Our system is broken largely as a result of our flawed definition of the role of attorneys as usually little more than “advocates” in a fundamentally misguided “adversarial system” of justice. The term “justice” in itself, embraces a dualistic concept of “right” and “wrong” that serves to drive society in more polarized directions, doing little to promote healing and more desirable, sustainable outcomes.

In time, society will either embrace a more mindful approach towards conflict resolution, or continue to fracture by individual motives driven by self-interest. If attorneys can come to redefine their roles, however, as agents of a fundamental shift towards heightening mindful awareness of present-moment experience in the face of some of life’s most challenging situations, attorneys may begin to truly help move society in more positive, sustainable directions.

To learn more about incorporating mindfulness in law practice, contact Licensed Therapist and Attorney Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit We also offer professional coaching to attorneys interested in incorporating mindfulness into their individual practices.